Monthly Update – January 2024

Dear Colleagues, 

Two years ago, in 2022, USC researchers surpassed $1 billion in research spending. Thank you for continuing this momentum by addressing the compelling and complex challenges we face. In this month’s update, you will discover useful programs and news to support your research – scholarship that is creating a more joyful, healthier, and cleaner world. 

With gratitude and regards,  

Ishwar K. Puri 

FACULTY ENGAGEMENT: Welcome back!!! We are looking forward to a new cycle of funding opportunities for our faculty and are happy to announce a new Office of Research & Innovation (OORI) award program – the Student Empowerment Award. The program supports USC undergraduate or graduate students and their faculty mentors to pursue groundbreaking use-inspired research and early-stage entrepreneurship that translates student intellectual property for social and economic good. Faculty mentors are responsible for submitting the proposal for teams that must include student researchers who represent multiple disciplinary domains. Programs include the Innovation Prize and the Entrepreneurship Prize. The proposal application deadline is March 4, 2024.  

Important update on the Zumberge Award RFP: We have provided additional details regarding the eligibility requirements for the Zumberge Large program. The Zumberge Large must include “…one Principal Investigator (PI) and at least one co-Principal Investigator; at least two separate schools within USC must be represented between the primary appointments of the PI and Co-PI. PIs are also strongly encouraged to include researchers from other universities and institutions as part of their application.” We recommend that applicants carefully review the updated RFP. The proposal application deadline is February 5, 2024. Additional upcoming deadlines include February 25, the Institutional Training Planning Award and March 18, the President’s Sustainability Initiative Award. Click here for information on all of OORI’s grant programs. Feel free to contact us at for any questions you may have. We are here to help! 

The RII Limited Submissions program is welcoming applications for the prestigious 2024 Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering, which are due February 9, 2024 at 5pm PST. This limited submission is for early career-professors whose disciplines include physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, astronomy, computer science, earth science, ocean science, and all branches of engineering. 

Our spring 2024 workshops are now open for registration on our website! In February, Karen Manrique will go over the regulatory resources available from SC CTSI and USC Mann’s DK Kim International Center for Regulatory Science; Llewellyn Cox will discuss the commercialization process at USC; and James Murday will guide you on federal funding opportunities available for early career researchers. If you’d like to be updated about upcoming Center for Excellence in Research workshops, please join our mailing list. Do you have an idea for a workshop? We’d love to hear from you

UPDATED CYBERSECURITY GUIDELINES FROM DoD: Recently updated federal data security regulations mandate stronger security requirements for organizations engaged in DoD funded research projects, including universities that deal with Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) and Federal Contract Information (FCI). The new requirements are being implemented through a framework called Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification 2.0 (CMMC 2.0). This framework was designed to validate protection measures for CUI and FCI in order to enhance the security of CUI and FCI maintained by contractor organizations like USC. The Office of Culture, Ethics and Compliance (OCEC), Office of the Chief Information Security Officer (OCISO) and the Office of Research & Innovation (OORI) are collaborating closely to implement a compliance program in partnership with school and unit researchers and administrators that will ensure USC’s continued ability to conduct the full range of DoD-sponsored research. Look for more information about the new requirements in an upcoming information session in early March. Additional details about the information session will be published next month. If you have questions in the interim, please contact Nita Awatramani and Dan Shapiro

FEDERAL LANDSCAPE UPDATES: NSF has released a memorandum related to the use of generative artificial intelligence technology in the NSF merit review process. The memo establishes guidelines for its use by reviewers and proposers. Notably, proposers are encouraged to indicate in the project description the extent to which, if any, generative AI technology was used and how it was used to develop their proposal. NSF may publish further guidelines for use as needed. The full memorandum can be found here

DEPARTMENT OF CONTRACTS & GRANTS: NIH Final Updated Policy Guidance for Subaward/Consortium Written Agreements – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have begun to implement new requirements for outgoing subawards, effective January 1st as set forth in NOT-OD-23-182. The new policy requires that foreign subrecipients clearly commit (at time of proposal) to abide by all requirements set forth in the solicitation, including but not limited to, the requirement to provide the USC PI access to copies of all lab notebooks, all data, and all documentation that supports the research outcomes as described in the progress report, in alignment with the timing requirements for Research Performance Progress Report submission (but not less frequently than annually).  Please review the information in the Newsflash for additional information on the impact of this updated policy on PI’s, Subrecipients and Research Administrators who receive NIH funding. 

Updated Information for Identification and Management of Research Services Agreements – The Department of Contracts and Grants (DCG), in collaboration with the Office of General Counsel (OGC) has updated the DCG Website to include new guidance on Services Agreements. The new webpage includes guidance on how to identify services scopes, lays out the roles and responsibilities for different units, provides points of contact at OGC, SPA, and DCG, and includes a list of Frequently Asked Questions. 

Monthly Training Dates for February – The Department of Contracts and Grants offers on a monthly basis, and upon request, a pre-award and post-award training. The pre-award training walks administrators through the proposal process here at USC covering; roles and responsibilities, how to route proposals through the Cayuse system, and USC processes and policies to be aware of. The post-award training provides an overview of roles and responsibilities, cost principals, common post award issues and how/when to seek sponsor prior approval. Below are the dates and times the trainings will be available in February:   

Pre-Award Training: A Walk Through Cayuse SP and the Proposal Process

Monday, February 26th from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm PST   

Post-Award: Managing Common Post Award Issues and Questions

Wednesday, February 28th from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm PST   

STEVENS CENTER FOR INNOVATION: Dr. Erin Overstreet has been named the Executive Director of the USC Stevens Center for Innovation! With more than 16 years of experience in academic technology transfer, licensing, industry partnerships, and research administration, she oversees the day-to-day operations of the office, manages the university’s extensive IP portfolio, facilitates collaboration between university researchers and industry partners, supports the formation of startups on the commercialization path, and brings inventions to market for the betterment of society. A seasoned executive, Dr. Overstreet has vast experience working with early-stage technologies and companies and has held leadership roles at the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Texas at Austin. Most recently, she was Head of Corporate Strategy at a cancer immune-oncology company, Delta TpX, where she gained first-hand operational experience in forming and financing early-stage companies. Throughout her career, she has worked closely with faculty and researchers to license more than 200 technologies and assisted over 40 startups in their journey to spin out from universities, which collectively raised $500+ million in VC funding including three IPOs. She has broad experience in evaluating early-stage technologies, refining and protecting key IP, marketing to industry partners, and negotiating deals that mature the technology and lead to commercialization. Dr. Overstreet holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and a BS in Microbiology from the University of Texas at Austin. Read about Dr. Overstreet’s initial goals and vision for the Stevens Center and her journey to USC. 

HUMAN RESEARCH PROTECTION PROGRAM: The HRPP initiated the Progress Update process at the beginning of January of this year. This process is a part of a new post approval monitoring system that the HRPP has implemented to ensure we provide oversight to all ongoing research involving people. To learn more about both the post approval monitoring system and the progress update, check out our website and our policy. The HRPP sent out over 19,000 requests for updates and so far, over 2000 studies have been closed. In addition, every investigator should be conducting their own yearly review of their study to make sure that their actions are consistent with their protocols. The PAM, housed in REDCap, is available for use by investigators as a self-assessment tool. It will also be used for cause- and not-for-cause audits. If you have questions about the process, please reach out to us at

DEPARTMENT OF ANIMAL RESOURCES: This year we will be focusing on training. Training our own staff and research staff in consistency of care, responsibilities, and clear expectations. This will translate into healthier animals, less risk to the PI, personnel, and higher validity in research.  

Per diem rates and service charges will increase on July 1, 2024. We are still strategizing on how to do this gently considering the impact on award funding. We appreciate your patience as no official numbers have been released yet. When the new rates are official, they will be posted to the DAR website after careful consideration and checks by university financial officials and research stakeholders.  

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH & SAFETY: USC Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) is pleased to announce an updated Annual Laboratory Refresher Training Memo which features an enhanced Radiation Safety Checklist and serves as a crucial reminder for all labs to complete their refresher training within the designated 60 days. Embracing the spirit of continuous improvement, we also launched two new Training offerings on TrojanLearn: the Viral Vector and BSL-2+ Training, along with the Radiation Safety Online Refresher. These initiatives highlight our dedication to cultivating a culture of safety within the USC community. 

Monthly updates are archived here.